Dance with Me

Over the last week, Brittany Lester, who was here on Programming staff for the first week of Family Camp, followed some of our staff around and asked them to dance because she was making a staff dance video.  The song is set to “Shut up and dance” by Walk the Moon.

We want to give a huge thanks to Brittany and her creativity on this!  I know I don’t feature our staff very often, and many times they get stuck behind the scenes and don’t get ‘the spotlight’ as much as they should.

Here’s a chance for you to see some of our fantastic staff, including Uncle Ivan, bust a move and break it down.

I hope you enjoy this daily dose of silly, from us to you.

And does anyone know the answer to the final question?

Why does Kenny MacSweyn have to dance??


The Chicken Wing Song

Last night was the Kahquah Cafe, which is always a highlight of each week of Family Camp for me, especially now that Paul and Heather Martin are back on site.  Paul smokes ribs and deep fries his breaded chicken wings, all in his own home made barbecue sauce (which we sell in the tuck shop, by the way 😉 ).  It’s been a few years, but while he does so, Paul and Jim Lambert, along with anyone who likes to sing or play to some old Bluegrass hymns comes around the picnic table behind the entrance to the kitchen and just jams.

For years, I’d watched this and either sang along, or sat and wished that I could join in.  This year, my fiddling skills were finally to a point where I could play along with everything they played, and I was SO thrilled to be able to be a part of this fun!  Bluegrass is my favourite way to do hymns, after all 🙂

I’m not the only one who has longed to participate in this Kahquah tradition.  Hannah Robertson, daughter to Paul and Heather Robertson, has been a camper for years, listening to the jam session that goes on out behind the kitchen door on Cafe night, and has wanted to be a part of it as well.  She learned to play the guitar this year, and has been practicing I’ll Fly Away, but hadn’t quite figured out the strumming pattern yet.  She couldn’t remember what the song was even called to ask for help, so she told her Mom “I need help with the strumming on The Chicken Wing Song, do you think you could ask Jim if he would show me?”  Of course, we needed to know what the chicken wing song was…. but you see, because Hannah is of a generation that is less familiar with old hymns, the only place she’s really heard them is at Camp.  She’s heard I’ll Fly Away being belted from behind the kitchen for several years, and wanted to join in.  While Paul’s making chicken wings, that’s her association.

I am pleased to announce that yesterday evening, Hannah Robertson joined a group of us jamming behind the kitchen, and was able to take part in something that she’s wanted to for a long time.  Jim played the Banjo, I played the fiddle, Hannah played the guitar, Justin played the guitar, and Ian, one of our volunteers from Port BIC who’s been working tirelessly on the chalets, played the bass.  Nancy, Jim, Paul, and many other voices all joined in.  It was a beautiful sound!  We’ll welcome Hannah back in with open arms next year to play with us again, and maybe with another year under her belt she can jam with us the whole time!  That’s how I made it in!

Toward the end of the jam session, Blain Mater, Shari Mater, and Tim Hershberger came and joined in on the fun, and the vocals were awesome!  I had goosebumps!  Walter Brillinger watched and recorded while he sang, and Ivan Winger lent his voice at times as well.

I have a sweet video of Ivan shaking a bucket of wings to coat them in sauce while Jim and Paul played and belted “Shake it up baby now” (that Twist and Shout song)….. but because Camp’s Internet bandwidth is both extremely limited and unbelievably slow, I’ll have to upload them when I’m in Huntsville or Parry Sound next, and then I’ll post them and link back to this post to remind you 🙂  For now, just the couple pictures I took will have to do.  The videos are better, but alas, my hands are tied.  I’m also including a picture of Sarah and Jared Long, and Cameron Lofthouse singing a song during the Open Mic part of the Cafe night.  I think it’s so great to see how far Jared especially has come in the last few years, and it’s awesome to see so many of our young staff using their musical talent to glorify God.

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Throw Back Thursday

#TBT to many years ago when Camp Kahquah was a pretty new thing, and kids could come to teen camp for $14.00.  Would you take a walk through time with me?  Come back to a time when Birchmere was the only accommodation outside of the lodge or a campsite you could rent, and kids camps had boys and girls split up.

Last week, our fearless office assistant, Brookyln Lester, decided to tackle cleaning and organizing the outer office so that she could see her desk, left neglected in the last year or so, and so that she could focus.  While she was cleaning, she found an album of old pictures that appear to be from the very beginning construction work on the Camp site, some old brochures from the 60s and 70s, and an invitation to the 25th anniversary dinner in 1987 (written partially by my Grandmother, Elaine Winger, so that was fun for me to find!).  I remember the 50th Anniversary Dinner held at Crossroads in Burlington with an “I love to tell the story” focus.  It was great!

I’ve taken pictures of all of it.  Sorry that not all of it is great quality, because a picture of a picture isn’t always awesome, but I sure enjoyed this stroll down memory lane, and I hope you will too.  For me, it’s less down memory lane as it is history, because I wasn’t around for a lot of it, but I find the history of Camp VERY cool.

If you’re ever up here and in the Tuck Shop, you’ll find a book called The Chronicles of Kahquah, which was written by Harvey Sider for the 50th anniversary in 2012.  We sell them here, so if you’re as fascinated by Kahquah’s history as I am, you may want to pick one up!

Who knows, maybe I’ll write the 75th anniversary book 😉  …. but I make no promises.

Here are the pictures of all the things Brooklyn found buried in a desk drawer.

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All in the Family

Well it’s Family Camp.  I told you earlier that I wasn’t going to write a blog unless I had something story-like to share with you, and I have something!  So here we are.

Yesterday, while I was swimming for endless hours on my day off (the lake is unbelievable.  If you’re not here, why not??), Ashley Veenstra came boating alongside me in an inflatable boat and asked if I had anyone give me stories yet.  Truth be told, the answer is no, I hadn’t yet.  But she suggested “do you know anyone else whose family has been represented here across 5 generations?”

No, we couldn’t think of anyone who could say that!

In 1961, Merle Mater along with a group of several other men came up to the site to walk around and see if this would be a valuable property purchase for the Brethren In Christ Church as a retreat and conference centre.  They were looking for a Camp.  We still have the snow shoes that Merle walked the property in, and they’re hanging on the wall in the dining hall!

Now, 54 years later, we have a large Mater clan here who still camps faithfully every year during Family Camp.  And they’ve been coming this whole time.  I can remember in my years as a kids’ camper having Uncle Merle as a bus driver, and not just because we call everyone Uncle and Aunt at Camp, but because Uncle Merle is my Great Uncle.  (Laura Winger writing)

My side of that family tree is close to having 5 generations, but because neither my brother nor I have any kids, we’re sitting at 4 for now.

On site this week, we have Brian and Shari Mater, their daughter Heidi (their son Dustin is not here), Blain and Jackie Mater and their three kids:  Brendan, Ashley, and Jocelyn.  Ashley’s husband Jon is here with them as well, with their two kids Landon and Madison.  Brendan’s wife Sarah is not here, but two of their three children, Bianca and Audrey are here with him.  Jocelyn’s boyfriend Taylor is here as well.

We can boast other families who have multiple generations who come to camp as well, probably too many to name.  I think it’s really neat though that as descendants of one of the original men to walk the property, camp is still an important part of the lives of the Mater family.  It’s been a real blessing for me this week to hear Blain and Brian’s bass voices ringing out during worship in the Chapel, and Ashley has been on the worship team this week along with Jim Lambert and Ashley Cunningham.  On Monday morning, Ashley Cunningham recorded them singing “Lord I Need You” and made a video of it, accompanied by pictures from all over Camp, then posted it to Facebook.  In it you can hear not only their voices leading, but also those of everyone joining in.

Here’s a picture of the CK 2015 Mater clan, in front of the snow shoes Merle Mater walked the property on in 1961.


The thing I love about Family Camp is though, that it doesn’t matter whether your family has been here for 5 generations, or whether you are the first generation of your family to start to come here, everyone is welcome and, I think, feels that ‘family’ feel.  My favourite part of Family Camp is getting to see the ‘family’ that I wouldn’t see anywhere else, even though they aren’t related to me.  I’ve gotten to know so many of you in my years as a camper and then as staff, that I can honestly say the people at Camp are like a second family to me.  And for that, it doesn’t matter how many generations we span, because we’re all family in Christ.

What Camp has taught me

Camp has taught me many things over the years.  I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid.  I started as a kids’ camper, nestled into the Birchmeres with my friends and cabin leaders, and learned more about Jesus from the teenaged staff that helped us out.  Fast forward a few years and my family came up for Wainfleet BIC Winter Retreats and for Family Camp, and even though I wasn’t a kids camper anymore, and I wasn’t staff, I was still learning at Camp.  I was learning how to be independent and keep my parents’ trust while running around the Camp grounds, swimming, and relaxing at the beach without direct supervision.

Fast forward a few more years, and my parents became staff here.  It was the summer that I graduated from teachers’ college, and I learned that I didn’t really need to live with my parents anymore, and I didn’t follow them to Camp.  At 23, I moved out on my own and got a teaching job in Woodstock.

And then still a few more years later, here we are.  If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d become Camp staff, writing a blog and running the tuck shop, I’d have told you you were crazy.  I probably would have laughed at you.  But here we are, and here I am, and I’ve learned so many things.

I’ve learned:
~ that when teenage staff love on kids, it makes a huge difference in their lives.  I saw this in my own experience as a camper, and then in a very real way watching our current staff love on the kids we have here each summer.

~ that God moves all the time.  In big and small ways.  But He’s always moving.  He steps in and makes sure things work together for His good.  Even when we can’t seem to figure out how things are going to come together, God is moving.

~ that the number of silly songs one can hold in their brain is directly proportionate to the boredom level of the kids you’re working with.

~ that you never ever want to get caught with your elbows on the table during kids’ camp, and you probably don’t want mail…. though mail is kinda cool.

~ that you can in fact get a bug bite on top of a bug bite.  For real.  I might as well moisturize with After Bite.

~ confidence.  Writing is something I’ve always loved, but if you’d told me when I graduated from school that I’d spend all of my summers off writing every day, I wouldn’t have believed you.  I’ve also gained a huge amount of confidence in my strength as a musician ~ vocally and on the violin.  It takes a great deal of overcoming nervousness to stand in front of people and play an instrument you’re not awesome at.  But I learned in the process that when you have a real family feel like Camp has always been to me, your mistakes on that same instrument are easily forgiven.  I gained confidence in my strength as a photographer.  And lastly, I gained confidence in my skills as a creative.  I know that music and writing are artsy and creative, but I never had a lot of confidence in my skills with drawing, but I’ve now designed all of our tuck clothing the last two years, even drawing it myself this year!  Whoa.

But most of all, I’ve learned that the love of a family of believers surrounding you can bring about change you never thought possible.  If you look at the things I’ve been able to accomplish because of the faith in me that camp staff and campers have placed, you’ll see that all kinds of things I never thought could ever happen have come true for me.


What has Camp taught you?


Trying something different

Good morning, and welcome to Family Camp Week 1.  I’m so excited.  I love Family Camp.  It just feels like…. family.  And I don’t have a less cheesy way to describe it to you.  There are so many people here who I wouldn’t get a chance to see if I weren’t here, and it would make me very sad not to see them.

This week we’re privileged to have Pastor Paul Penelton with us, visiting from the booming metropolis of Frogmore, ON (population 75).  He’s the pastor at The Mission, formerly Houghton BIC.  He’s walking us through a series on the Five Love Languages, and we spent this morning learning about the importance of words.  We talked about words of encouragement and affirmation, and how the right words said sincerely can change a person’s view of themselves.  That’s certainly true for me, even though I know I wouldn’t consider words of affirmation my top love language.  I’ve certainly lived under the shadow of words that weren’t affirming, and have been repeatedly built up by the encouraging words of others as well.  Words are powerful.

I’m excited to see what he has for us when talking about the other four (quality time, physical touch, gifts, and acts of service).


I’d like to take the blog in a bit of a different direction this year during Family Camp.  During kids’ camp, I treat it as my personal mission to follow the kids around and report on what they’re doing so that you at home can read about it, see what they’re doing, learn what they’re learning, and peek in on them having fun.  But family camp is about vacation.  I think this blog can be better with more of an “I love to tell the story” feel to it instead of a “look at what this family did while on vacation” angle.  That said, please expect fewer pictures, and more stories, (and likely fewer posts overall) but I can’t do this alone.

If you have a story about how Camp has impacted you, changed your life, or just been an awesome moment in life for you, I’d love it if you’d share it with me so that I can share it with our blog readers.  Tomorrow’s blog will feature me telling you the things I’ve learned in my 20+ years at Camp in various roles ~ as a kids camper, a winter retreat camper, a family camper, and now as staff.  If you have something you want to share with us, even if it’s just a short memory or story, please email me at  I’d love to tell the stories, and I see my role during family camp being more as an editor than as a reporter.  I’d love to compile your memories and share a love for Camp with all of our 1000+ subscribers.  Would you help me with that?

In the meantime, please check out a few pictures from the Family Quadathlon we had yesterday, as well as the dedication of the first completed of our 2 new chalets!  We prayed over them and thanked our VERY hardworking volunteers, who’ve just shown up when they were most needed to prepare these cabins for occupancy.  We thank the Lord for the faithfulness we’ve seen in the completion of these buildings so far, and we’re encouraged at the speed that the second one is going up ~ looking like it will be ready this week.  Praise the Lord!

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Also, if you head over to our Facebook page, you’ll see pictures that Frank posted of our very first Saturday Welcome Barbecue.  For no charge (though a donation bin is available), you and your family can sign up to join us for a barbecue when you arrive.  Wouldn’t that be great?  Even if you’re not part of the meal plan, you can set up without worrying about what to eat.  Just make sure if this is something you want to do, you let Nancy know in the office.  I believe the deadline to sign up for this coming Saturday’s barbecue is either today or tomorrow so that Heather is able to make sure she’s ordered enough food.  In these pictures, you can see featured our brand new picnic tables.  Jim and Kim Wideman took on the task of fundraising for these tables, knowing that some of the ones we had weren’t in great shape.  Kim went during the winter to Home Depot and got such a great deal on the cost of the picnic tables, that even by the time they’d been delivered to Camp, stained, and had the ‘in honour of’ or ‘in memory of’ plaques engraved and installed, we still raised enough money that the wash house now holds 4 washing machines and 3 dryers!  And there wasn’t a cent spent out of the Camp operating budget, but now there will be less wait time for a more efficient wash house!  Since I stay off site, I don’t use those laundry facilities, but I know many of you have been waiting for this for a LONG time!
Until next time!  (and please share your stories with me!)

Kahquah’s Got Talent — Fam Camp 1 Edition

I hope, wherever you were tonight (or last night, for some of you reading), that your skies were as clear as they were here at Camp.  It was welcomed after steady rain the night before.  But tonight, if you look up at the sky here at Camp, I recommend you not stare too hard, because there are so many layers upon layers of stars that you risk a dizzy spell and falling over.  It’s breathtaking.  Does it make anyone else feel really small?  It sure does it to me.

Our Algonquin Adventure 2 kids arrived back today, and the first thing they had to do was set all their tents back out and hang all their gear out to dry.  Wednesday night was a soaker.  Graeme told me the story of them getting to their campsite spot on Wednesday night, and how they paddled right into a mass of clouds that they could just tell were going to open up.  They pulled their canoes up on shore, set up camp, and no sooner than they had everything up did it start to pour.  They were protected from having to paddle in the rain though, except for a bit this morning, so we are thankful for that.

Following Melissa’s talk in Chapel this morning (side note:  I hear her husband, Adam, is quite the guitar player and worship leader!  Thanks for jumping in, Adam!), we had a baptism at the lake.  I always love watching people be baptized in the lake, because the choice to be baptized at Camp always seems to hold such personal significance.  There’s a reason that over the 5 years I’ve been staff here, I’ve probably watched a dozen baptisms.  People feel at home here, and we love it.  Congratulations, Adam, and thanks Bill for helping this happen here for him, like he wanted.

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At Dinner tonight, we celebrated Chris and Sherri’s son Isaac’s 2nd birthday.  He’ll be 2 on Monday, but they’ve gone home for a week so we wanted to make sure we showed him our love!  If you want to see some great pictures of the look on a 2 year old’s face as sparklers are set on the table sticking out of a cupcake right in front of him, check them out.  Sadly, we didn’t capture the moment where he almost shoved the cupcakes away because he was quite apprehensive of the sparklers, but as you can see, he cheered up quite quickly.
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This evening, we had a talent show in the Chapel.  I saw all kinds of talent!  I think my favourite act though was the “throwing pebbles in the water” skit.  This brought back all kinds of memories for me, because when I was a kids’ camper, my cabin did this all three years.  My first year as a Camper, I’m pretty sure I was “Pebbles,” so you can imagine how entertaining it was for me to see a whole new generation of kids doing this skit.  There were other awesome things as well, like Ashley singing the song she wrote about running and singing, which were two things she was told she’d never be able to do again after her car accident a year ago, and yet here she is, and she’s done them both every day.  What an amazing testament to God’s power.

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Following the Talent Show, there were sundaes and floats in the dining hall.  I was introduced to (and refused to try) sundaes with Nerds on them.  I suppose I probably shouldn’t mention it in here, because we’re almost out of Nerds in the tuck shop and now people will want to do it next week, but oh well!  You’ll have to buy surprise bags and put gummy candy on your sundaes instead.  Or Smarties.  I suppose a tangy Sundae isn’t the worst thing….. right?